America’s Music Industry Comes of Age
The huge growth in U.S. population due to immigration drove musical instrument sales to new heights between 1890 and 1909. Higher wages led to a growing middle class who pursued music and other cultural refinements to enhance their social status.
A woman who played the piano was considered more marriageable. By 1899, pianos and reed organs graced drawing rooms in over a million homes across America. They were even found in the occasional miner’s tent in Colorado.
The music products industry followed settlers and the railroad West. Chicago retailers and distributors, who had relied on products made by East Coast manufacturers, began building their own factories to supply instruments to dealers in frontier towns such as Milwaukee and Denver. Chicago became the western hub of the music industry.
- The arrival of new immigrants pushed the U.S. population from 62,979,766 in 1890 to 92,228,496 in 1910.
- 15,000 firms from Boston to Denver were engaged in the manufacture and sale of musical products in 1890.
- Piano production fell 50% during the economic panic of 1893.